Not the Same Old Classifieds Anymore
Story by Jody Garlock
When Ben Dupre decided to relocate to the Midwest from California,
he spent six months scouring ads and jetting across the country.
But not once did he sit down with a Sunday newspaper. "I used
the internet exclusively," says the 30 year old, who landed
a job at Sauer-Sundstrand in Ames.
He's not alone. Employees and employers alike are turning
to the internet to find work and workers. "The employee recruitment
process has shifted significantly from paper to electronic
media," says Ellen Bayer, practice leader for human resources
communications and organizational effectiveness for the American
Management Association in New York City.
Faced with a shrinking pool of talent due to record low unemployment
rates, employers are broadening their recruiting horizons.
Not only are they searching in cyberspace, they're hitting
the airwaves, putting up billboards, and using a host of other
methods to reach prospective employees.
"People aren't giving up on traditional ways of recruiting,
but they're doing the basics and then going way, way beyond,"
The signs of that are evident across Iowa. Billboards woo
workers; television stations announce local job openings,
often during early-morning broadcasts. On the radio, employers
hope to catch the ear of motorists. And the state's "smart
move" campaign, which includes radio ads in other states,
uses emotional appeals to try to get people to return to Iowa.
Becky Gardner, account manager for Management
Recruiters International-DayStar Staffing in
Cedar Rapids, says these "come-work-for-us" pleas are relatively
new and growing. "Companies used to market how they're going
to sell their products. That was the number-one focus," she
says. "Now, that has shifted. Recruiting employees and retaining
employees has become a major focus."
Dupre, who used three internet job boards, connected with
Sauer-Sundstrand through the Des Moines-based NationJob
Network, one of the nation's top five job boards.
The company's growth is a telling sign in the popularity of
internet recruiting. NationJob started in 1988 as a computer
kiosk in malls; since the mid-1990s, it's grown 300 percent
every year and averages 20 million hits a month, says Ed Linebach,
director of key accounts for NationJob. Employers pay to list
vacancies on the nationjob.com site; a single 30-day ad costs
Linebach says job boards like his are an easy and cost-effective
way to reach a large audience. "The main idea is that you
can attract a bigger and better range of candidates," he says.
"Local companies can recruit locally as well as nationally.
What we do is give employers another alternative."
With NationJob's "personal job scout"-known as P.J. Scout-job
seekers can tailor their search to specific types of work,
salary ranges, and geographic locations. That, says Linebach,
also benefits employers since they don't waste time sorting
through resumés of candidates who don't match.
Dupre says using the internet made finding a job closer to
his wife's native Wisconsin possible. "The internet has made
job searching on a national level much easier," he says. "P.J.
Scout took all the hassle out of it by presenting me only
with jobs that matched my criteria."
Amy Williams, human resource administrator at Sauer-Sundstrand,
says a key to recruiting via the internet is to know where
the people you're after go. "You need to invest the time to
research whom you want to target and what sites they typically
visit," she says. "We've done that by talking with internal
people and looking at various web sites they visit."
But the internet isn't the only place where business is booming.
"Nationally, radio has really gathered a lot of speed for
recruitment in the past two to three years," says Kellie Lala,
general sales manager for KZIA-FM
in Cedar Rapids.
"Society is more and more mobile and people don't have time
to read the newspaper," she explains. "Radio goes with them
in their car, in the workplace, when they shop. They automatically
are going to hear your ad, and you might be reaching the person
who just had a really bad day at work and is thinking about
Some Cedar Rapids employers have also tapped the station's
on-air personalities; the station routinely does live broadcasts
at businesses' open houses, where they invite listeners to
fill out an application or have an on-the-spot interview.
Other savvy employers have turned to billboards. "Most every
form of business chooses outdoor advertising to reach people
on a daily basis-even to the extent of seeking new employees,"
says Mary Ann Olinger, senior account executive at Lamar
Advertising in Cedar Rapids. Even an out-of-state
engineering firm put up a billboard in Cedar Rapids hoping
to lure workers its way.
Indeed, when it comes to choosing a medium, a bit of behind-the-scenes
psychology comes into play. "These days, companies are forced
to go after the people who aren't looking for jobs, and that's
why they're trying all these other media options," Gardner
says. "It's a big step to pick up a newspaper and look through
all the ads. On the other hand, that radio ad, billboard,
or TV spot can attract you without you doing anything. You
might say, 'I'm not miserable, but, hey, that could be better.'"
Still, employers aren't abandoning the traditional newspaper
advertising, but they are coupling it with other mediums.
And in some cases, they're putting a twist on traditional
& Smith, Inc., in Des Moines, for instance, jazzes
up its newspaper ads with cartoons. Called "Workdaze," the
cartoons position Seabury & Smith as a fun place to work,
as well as let workers know that the company has openings
for varying skill levels. "When people go through the newspaper
classifieds, there are so many ads calling for their attention,"
says Jackie Van Ahn, vice president of human resources at
Seabury & Smith. "This helps separate us from everybody else."
Whatever the approach, Van Ahn says finding employees in
a tight market calls for creative thinking. "You're always
out there trying to differentiate yourself to get potential
employees to come through your door," she says. "I'm sure,
as a whole, employers are spending a lot more money on advertising
and recruiting than in the past."
-Jody Garlock wrote about Pella in the
February/March issue of the magazine.